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How to Have a Sustainable New Year

December 20, 2023

By Jolene Weick, Park Interpreter

The New Year is all about creating new habits, making resolutions, and turning over a new leaf. Most people make yearlong gym membership commitments, or say they’re going to spend less money and then give up half way through January. Instead of setting yourself up for a commitment you can’t keep, consider one that doesn’t require as much dedication and hard work. Sustainability!

Sustainability can take on many different forms. I’m not suggesting you need to cut plastics out of your life or ride your bike to work every day, start small. Sustainability can be as simple as reducing your wardrobe, choosing greener products, and decluttering your home.

Reducing your wardrobe

Everyone owns clothes they don’t wear anymore, whether it be something with an unsightly stain or a jacket that is just bound to come back in style (yes, I’m looking at you nylon windbreaker). Grab a cup of coffee (ethically sourced) and start cleaning out your closet. Make a pile of clothes that you haven’t reached for in the past year, do they still give you joy? Why haven’t you worn it? Consider donating what you are able to part with. If you really want to lean into it, a capsule wardrobe may be for you. Think quality over quantity, a few quality pieces of clothing can make many outfits that will last years. Fast fashion is not only detrimental to the environment but can also overtake your closet. Building your wardrobe around a few key pieces that won’t go out of style in a year and won’t deteriorate after a few washes will help you live more sustainably.

Choosing greener products

You may not realize the effect that your everyday products have on the environment. These products can range anywhere from the toothpaste you choose to the car you drive. You don’t have to sell your car and start driving a compact car in order to live more sustainably, switching up some of your everyday household items can make a large impact. Cleaning products contain a lot of volatile chemicals that can be harming not only to the environment but your family and pets as well. Consider opting for more naturally made products or making your own. Heavily scented items

A simmer pot is a great, natural way to give your home a fresh fragrance.

can also have negative impacts on you and the environment, they often contain phthalates and carcinogens which are highly toxic. Opting for products made with scents derived from nature or creating your own are great alternatives.

Decluttering your home

The holidays bring on a lot of extra stuff. Once the holiday lights are down and the tree is put away, that extra stuff can get overwhelming. Freeing your home of clutter can create a more sustainable environment. Gather items that no longer spark joy, have been broken and can’t be repaired, and items you can no longer remember the purpose of (all those cables stuffed into a drawer). Also consider parting with items you have an overabundance of (nobody needs 10 throw blankets). Sell what you can to recoup some of the money you overspent during the holidays, what you can’t sell consider donating or recycling. Try to avoid outright throwing things out, make this a last resort.

Old electronics should be recycled properly, find a recycling location local to you.

This new year, make your resolution to be more sustainable. Small changes can have big results. Don’t over commit yourself, start with simple changes and stick with them. You may find that living sustainably can actually be fulfilling.

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